Updated Sep 14, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on how business leaders are reevaluating climate impacts

On Wednesday, September 14th, Axios climate and energy reporter Andrew Freedman led conversations exploring how some business leaders and companies are reevaluating their climate impact following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. Guests included Project Drawdown executive director Dr. Jonathan Foley and Allbirds head of sustainability Hana Kajimura.

Dr. Jonathan Foley explained how the Inflation Reduction Act is accelerating the deployment of climate solutions in the business world and what the next steps are for corporations on climate action. 

  • On private and public sector action on climate solutions: “Interestingly, the Inflation Reduction Act is actually pretty small compared to what the private sector is already doing on climate solutions. The Inflation Reduction Act, while fantastic and I’m a big fan of it, it’s going to spend about $35 to $40 billion a year for the next decade or so…but it’s interesting that venture capitalists are spending about twice as much as that starting about a year or two.”
  • On the intersection between climate change and business: “But we all know, I think, that climate change is a serious threat, not just to nature, but to business, to the economy, to everything that we do. It’s an existential threat to business. And so there are really going to be two kinds of businesses in the future: the ones who take climate change seriously and the ones who aren’t here anymore.”

Hana Kajimura discussed Allbirds’ sustainability goals and how the company balances expansive e-commerce growth with emissions reduction efforts.

  • On connecting carbon reduction targets with employee compensation: “So this year we’re aiming for a 6% reduction in our carbon footprint, and our employee bonuses are tied to that number. You know, the bonus is one thing, but the other big part of it is making sure that we have corporate top-level KPIs around that carbon goal that can then cascade throughout the organization.”
  • On balancing emissions reduction with business growth: “We’re in the first six or seven years of Allbirds existing, and we’re in the biggest phase of growth for our company, so any reduction that we’re going to have to make on a per product basis is then compounded by the fact that the business is growing in the background, and we still have to get our emissions in 2030 below what they were in 2020. So we certainly have our work cut out for us.”

In the View from the Top segment, Seventh Generation chief impact officer Ashley Orgain highlighted the notion of a “carbon fingerprint” as measuring the climate impact that results from a company’s financial investments. 

  • “We’re looking at what we’re calling our carbon fingerprint. And what that is is really expanding the lens to understand the broader impacts that our company is having by measuring the financial investments we make in ancillary services, like marketing services, creative agencies, the banks that we work with, and also our insurance providers, and what as a result are we funding, and what as a result are we driving in the climate crisis as a result of our finances?”

Thank you Seventh Generation for sponsoring this event.

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